Yoga Sutras/Introduction to Book II

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Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, translated by Charles Johnston
Introduction to Book II

INTRODUCTION TO BOOK II

The first book of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is called the Book of Spiritual Consciousness. The second book, which we now begin, is the Book of the Means of Soul Growth. And we must remember that soul growth here means the growth of the realization of the spiritual man, or, to put the matter more briefly, the growth of the spiritual man, and the disentangling of the spiritual man from the wrappings, the veils, the disguises laid upon him by the mind and the psychical nature, wherein he is enmeshed, like a bird caught in a net

The question arises: By what means may the spiritual man be freed from these psychical meshes and disguises, so that he may stand forth above death, in his radiant eternalness and divine power? And the second book sets itself to answer this very question, and to detail the means in a way entirely practical and very lucid, so that he who runs may read, and he who reads may understand and practise.

The second part of the second book is concerned with practical spiritual training, that is, with the earlier practical training of the spiritual man.

The most striking thing in it is the emphasis laid on the Commandments, which are precisely those of the latter part of the Decalogue, together with obedience to the Master. Our day and generation is far too prone to fancy that there can be mystical life and growth on some other foundation, on the foundation, for example, of intellectual curiosity or psychical selfishness. In reality, on this latter foundation the life of the spiritual man can never be built; nor, indeed, anything but a psychic counterfeit, a dangerous delusion.

Therefore Patanjali, like every great spiritual teacher, meets the question: What must I do to be saved? with the age- old answer: Keep the Commandments. Only after the disciple can say, These have I kept, can there be the further and finer teaching of the spiritual Rules.

It is, therefore, vital for us to realize that the Yoga system, like every true system of spiritual teaching, rests on this broad and firm foundation of honesty, truth, cleanness, obedience. Without these, there is no salvation; and he who practices these, even though ignorant of spiritual things, is laying up treas- against the time to come.